Interview with artist Thom Stuart
Sunshine Coast-based Thom Stuart is a talented artist, printmaker and muralist known for his use of mixed media and bold, striking colour.
We sat down with him to chat all things creativity, inspiration and daily routine – to get an insight into where his ideas come from, how he manages to balance being a practising creative with busy family life, and why he’s drawn to making things…
Tell us about your creative practice. How, when and why do you create?
I’m an artist mainly dealing with painting and some printmaking. At the moment my work deals with the landscape and nature. I like working with physical mediums (non digital), and find making art and being creative a welcome outlet when it comes to presenting your own view on the world.
How did you get started in the creative industries? Do you remember a moment, time or place when you realised this is what you’d love to do?
It wasn’t so much a lightning bolt moment, but more a slow build over time. From drawing and painting when I was younger to going to art school and working in design studios, it has always made strange sense to me – and the interest remains non-fleeting to this day.
In your years as a creative, has there been a turning point or catalyst for changing your path?
I think over time I have been spending less time doing more traditional design work for fun and have focused more on painting. Hopefully I can keep doing this for a long time. I like the idea of seeing a progression of personal style over a lifetime.
Tell us about how your work has evolved or changed over the past few years…
There have been a few changes in my day-to-day life in the last few years that I think have had an effect on my work. The main change was moving to the Sunshine Coast – I think being more exposed to the natural environment has crept more into my work as a result. Also having a young family has made me try to be more focused with what I’m doing with my time in the studio.
What projects or opportunities have come your way that challenged you?
Every project is always a challenge, from art shows to collaborations, but the big-scale mural work always seems to carry the most anxiety for me. I think the physical nature of the work and the trial-by-fire of public opinion can be daunting, but they can also be the most rewarding projects as you get to see the finished product in such a grand scale at the end of the process.
Favourite tools of the trade?
I like to combine a range of mediums, but they mainly revolve around acrylic paint, paint pens and spray paint. The brighter the colour, the better. I find acrylic paint is nice and immediate, especially as I like to work quickly and build up lots of layers in my paintings.
Where do you look for inspiration or what helps keep you motivated?
It really could come from anywhere, but it’s mainly things that I observe in the landscape, or an interaction in public that could lead to an interesting visual image. I like to try and keep the subject matter of my work quite personal.
You’ve recently set up a new studio space at home. Tell us about how and where you like to work…
It’s great to have a dedicated space. With a young family, uninterrupted time in the studio is precious and so I mainly work in short bursts – usually early in the morning or late at night in the quiet hours. It’s not unusual for some works to take a month or two to finish, so I slowly build images over time until I’m completely sick of them. That’s usually when I know they are finished.
We’re so very excited about your mixed media paintings for our Notely Artist Collection. Tell us a little about the process and thought behind these artworks…
For the Notely range, we made a small set of wooden panel paintings. I guess the best way to describe them is semi-abstract landscape painting, with an emphasis on colour rather than form.
If we peeked over your shoulder, what would we find you sketching in your Notely?
Most likely a random assortment of shopping lists, reminders to self, painting ideas and scribbles. Generally, if I don’t write something down there is a good chance I won’t remember it.